Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finding Your Perfect Mentor: Part I

We all need that advisor, the one who guides us through uncomfortable, sticky situations, who encourages us when we're tired, and offers a fresh perspective on an ongoing project. This person is always available when needed, never out of town or busy with a different project when solicited. This advisor, unfortunately, does not exist. But we still need help, and clarity is definitely available for us.

There is no one single person who can possibly be that super-guide we secretly crave: the one who knows us, who believes in us, and has instant solutions to all our less-preferred situations. There are two sources of guidance: inside our selves, and in other people. Most of the time we really do know what we need to do, we just need a little push or reassurance to proceed.

Over the past few days I worked with a super organizer/stylist, who went through all my stuff, everything in my living room, studio, and bedroom. She would ask me, for example, if I really planned on wearing that beautiful tweed Ralph Lauren blazer, the one I bought in 1983. Now, deep inside, I know I am not likely to wear it again; I haven't put it on in at least 20 years. But the fear of never buying another blazer as nice as that one has kept me hanging on to it. That blazer, along with few other bags of other garments, is now in the hands of Good Will. It's not that Carrie taught me some new principle of organizing, or that I didn't know it was best to throw out clothes that I wasn't wearing. Her outside opinion, expressed as "Do you really want to keep....THAT?", helped me clear out more clutter than I even knew I owned.

Every creativity or productivity or success author insists that we need to get these outside opinions. And we know that. But sometimes we don't know whom to ask, or hate to bother someone.

One suggestion from Julia Cameron, and Jack Canfield, an unlikely pair, is to get together with a group of 5 to 7 people who are all working on their own projects. Cameron's book on creativity has spawned small groups of "The Artist's Way" devotees all over the planet. Canfield's approach is more business-like: invite people whom you think can help you to meet and share ideas on a regular basis.

This is an excellent idea. Not only does it provide structure, but it also allows a degree of accountability. There are other ways to get mentoring...appearing soon on The Mixonian.

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